In These Times We Could Use More Positive Stories of Those Challenging The System, Something The Media NEVER Touches (Especially When It Involves Socialism Taking Root In The Populace)

Hey there folks. Haven't had much time to get anything together here for a while, though I have loads of drafts sitting around. And don't anticipate that changing much for the near future, with this middle-aged father taking over full-time duties for two babies come the end of March.

But this morning as I toggled back and forth between here, my email inbox and clicking links from there to places like In These Times, it occurred to me that there was yet another opportunity for us here at C99. With the MSM having been so horrific for so long - and traditionally only in the business of spreading fear, propping up sensationalism and celebrity gossip, and dutifully trotting out the propaganda of their pay masters terrorizing the world from Wall St, Corporate America and the Auction House that is Our Government - it's got me thinking that there's probably a specific forum waiting to be carved out, one that focuses exclusively on dissenters, radicals and everyday people who are making a difference, on any level.

It seems to me there are always lots of great stories everywhere that no one is talking about on a macro level - because they're not backed by the Big Bucks needed to break through into the mainstream consciousness. That's where we can be of help to the little guy. Collect these stories in a repository, so that when someone wants to know what the opposition looks like, or where the hope is to be found, we can point somewhere that has enough of them to be convincing.

For example, my email inbox this morning is filled with invitations from Democratic Socialists of America (NYC). Events such as Lower Manhattan, Bronx/Upper Manhattan, Central and North Brooklyn branch meetings, as well a Tech Action Workshop, Introduction to Socialist Feminism reading discussion and a Labor & the 21st Century Shop meeting.

The email digest from In These Times (for which Kurt Vonnegut was a contributor) had these stories:

Behind the Explosion in Socialism Among American Teens (a story based in Tampa, FL, about "The dramatic growth of YDSA chapters confirms that millennials don’t think capitalism is working for them").

This Former NFL Player Is Running on a Progressive Agenda to Flip a Red District in Texas

Former linebacker Colin Allred is hoping to take out Republican Rep. Pete Sessions by campaigning on Medicare for all, a $15 minimum wage and automatic voter registration. But first, he will have to win the upcoming Democratic primary.

Meet the Coalition Building a Global Union Movement Against Capitalism

The network is fledgling, but growing. Since it launched in 2013, Solidaires, CGT and Conlutas have opened the network to anyone who adheres to its set of principles: a commitment to social-movement unionism and a broad anti-capitalist vision. Like its two prior conferences in Paris and in Campinas, Brazil, the 2018 version drew union activists from across the world, including those on the front lines of struggles against authoritarianism and repression. Among them were unionists from Algeria, Colombia, El Salvador and Mali, as well as the Tunisian General Labor Union, which won the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize, as part of a group of civil society organizations, for its role in the post-revolution transition.

50 Years After Memphis Sanitation Workers Went On Strike, Remembering MLK’s Words

Incidentally, just last night we took the kids one of the local libraries and checked out, King's final book called "Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?" Which was written during a long period in isolation, living in a rented residence in Jamaica with no telephone, and encapsulated the crystallized vision of all his life's world that the triple evils of militarism, capitalism and racism were obstacles to freedom, liberty and justice.

There was this segment on the Jimmy Dore Show too, "Woman Dragged From Public Meeting For Exposing Corruption"

I also want to mention hearing a recording on Pacifica Radio's WBAI of Reverend Barber (of Moral Mondays) speaking. To my ears he was speaking some pretty powerful radical stuff about the intersection of class and race. Haven't heard much of him actually speaking and for some reason was inclined to think that he might just be a Dem partisan (remember that whole fiasco at TOP of those Neoliberal douchebags claiming a march of his was not to attended by canvassing Bernie supporters or something. Bernie campaign district manager Niko Case tells how the DNC sabotaged them).

At least in the segment I heard, I was impressed with his ability to go chopping at the root of the system rather than suggest lame Neoliberal fixes. He even seemed to vilify the Democratic Party's non-stance on economic issues, by mentioning how Trump was allowed to just lift Bernie's sincere fiery populist message and appeal to the disenfranchised, something the Dems failed to do.

I offer these even as I have become an unbeliever in the electoral system. To me they are at least examples of people moving in the right direction. And that matters.

It's the little stories not getting coverage that can make all the difference. How, you say? Inspiring others to do something similar. Lookout has talked about concentrating more on the local, CStMS and gulfgal have reminded us of the great outpouring of transformative solidarity and mutual aid at the heart of the Occupy movement.

Maybe there's a place for an Open Thread type of thing, in which we could cull all these stories in one place. Thing is, we all pretty much read the remaining news sites that we have determined over periods of time to be trustworthy, reliable and from a point of view that confronts the Powers The Be. But while these is lots of overlap there, each has one's own preferences of which others may have missed and that will probably furnish the applicable stories the rest of us missed. And then there's also the local stories and personal stories. We need them too, especially those.

I don't presume to offer this as a template of what could be done here at C99. There are so many more amazing stories of people rising up personally to shout out that they are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. But I just don't have the time.

There's a lot be gained, in terms of at the least momentum in our struggle going forward and keeping our sanity in such an increasingly fucked up world, that I personally would like to see more of these kids of stories.

If you've been inspired or captivated lately by stories of people trying to make a difference, please consider sharing.

Love from NYC...

35 users have voted.


Mark from Queens's picture

example of someone making a physical and mental sacrifice to make a difference.

"The Play's the Thing" (Dec 2013, Truthdig)

I began teaching a class of 28 prisoners at a maximum-security prison in New Jersey during the first week of September. My last class meeting was Friday. The course revolved around plays by August Wilson, James Baldwin, John Herbert, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Miguel Piñero, Amiri Baraka and other playwrights who examine and give expression to the realities of America’s black underclass as well as the prison culture. We also read Michelle Alexander’s important book “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.” Each week the students were required to write dramatic scenes based on their experiences in and out of prison.

My class, although I did not know this when I began teaching, had the most literate and accomplished writers in the prison. And when I read the first batch of scenes it was immediately apparent that among these students was exceptional talent...

My stacks of 28 scenes written by the students each week, the paper bearing the musty, sour smell of the prison, rose into an ungainly pile. I laboriously shaped and edited the material. It grew, line by line, scene by scene, into a powerful and deeply moving dramatic vehicle. The voices and reality of those at the very bottom rung of our society — some of the 2.2 million people in prisons and jails across the country, those we as a society are permitted to demonize and hate, just as African-Americans were once demonized and hated during slavery and Jim Crow — began to flash across the pages like lightning strikes. There was more brilliance, literacy, passion, wisdom and integrity in that classroom than in any other classroom I have taught in, and I have taught at some of the most elite universities in the country. The mass incarceration of men and women like my students impoverishes not just them, their families and their communities, but the rest of us as well.

“The most valuable blacks are those in prison,” August Wilson once said, “those who have the warrior spirit, who had a sense of being African. They got for their women and children what they needed when all other avenues were closed to them.” He added: “The greatest spirit of resistance among blacks [is] found among those in prison.”

Will be out for much of the day. But will check in as much as I can.

22 users have voted.

"If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:


- Kurt Vonnegut

SnappleBC's picture

@Mark from Queens

We could call it something like, "Little people winning big" (let's hear all your ideas).

From there it may blossom into a blog series but an open thread keeps the contribution requirements minimal.

This is a great idea. I come across these stories also in my travels across the intertoobs and collecting them seems worthy.

5 users have voted.

A lot of wanderers in the U.S. political desert recognize that all the duopoly has to offer is a choice of mirages. Come, let us trudge towards empty expanse of sand #1, littered with the bleached bones of Deaniacs and Hope and Changers.
-- lotlizard

zoebear's picture

To lift and inspire our souls and minds is something I would definitely support. What a wonderful idea Mark! There are a lot of us who could really benefit from this and I've always believed that any chance we have of protecting ourselves from our predators rests in our ability to build tightly connected communities right where we live. This would be one way to start for many of us not knowing where to start.

16 users have voted.

If we surrendered to earth's intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

karl pearson's picture

@zoebear n/t

11 users have voted.
mimi's picture

6 users have voted.
Meteor Man's picture

Here's one positive effort:

Unprecedented Democracy Summit Sparks New Hope:
A movement to unite Americans across political beliefs finds lots of common ground.

Over the course of two and a half days, there were dozens of panels and lectures by the brightest democracy thought-leaders, workshops on messaging and creating grassroots campaigns, and perhaps most importantly, ample opportunities to gather, chat and scheme with other democracy diehards.

Conferences like Unrig the System build the collective brainpower of the movement. Knowledge is shared and then taken home to all corners of America, to all the places where it is most needed. This is what a mass movement requires, for an activated and educated citizenry fighting in common purpose is unstoppable.

12 users have voted.

"They'll say we're disturbing the peace, but there is no peace. What really bothers them is that we are disturbing the war." Howard Zinn

Meteor Man's picture

Here's a critical Anti-war effort and a description of the project written by the co-director of the Costs of War Project at Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.

Their goal: to draw attention to the hidden and unacknowledged costs of our counterterror wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and a number of other countries as well.

Stephanie Savell points out that the dollar figures and casualty numbers they have compiled get media attention, however:

Once you get past the shocking numbers, however, it becomes far harder to get media (or anyone else's) attention for America's wars. Certainly, the human and political costs in distant lands are of remarkably little interest here. Today, it's difficult to imagine a devastating war photo making the front page of a mainstream newspaper, much less galvanizing protest, as several now-iconic images did during the Vietnam era.

A recent report about the devastation, ravages and toll war is taking on the populations of war zones was ignored:

Do Americans really not care? That, at least, seems to have been the judgment of the many journalists who received our press release about the report.

In truth, this has become something like a fact of life in America today, one that's only been made more extreme by the media's full-time fascination with President Donald Trump -- from his tweets to his insults to his ever-wilderstatements. He -- or rather the media obsession with his every twitch -- poses just the latest challenge to getting attention of any sort for the true costs to us (and everyone else) of our country's wars.

The core problem:

War to the Horizon and a Demobilized Public and Congress

At heart, though, whatever our small successes, we continue to face a grim reality of this twenty-first-century moment, one that long preceded the presidency of Donald Trump: the lack of connection between the American public (myself once included) and the wars being fought in our names in distant lands. Not surprisingly, this goes hand-in-hand with another reality: you have to be a total war jockey, someone who follows what's happening more or less full time, to have a shot at knowing what's really going on in the conflicts that now extend from Pakistan into the heart of Africa.

America's entire political system and the media are responsible for keeping the American public uninformed and disconnected from the horror of America's global warfare:

This research process brought home to me that the detachment many Americans feel in relation to those post-9/11 wars is matched -- even fed -- by the opacity of government information about them. This no doubt stems, at least in part, from a cultural trend: the demobilization of the American people. The government demands nothing of the public, not even minimalist acts like buying war bonds (as in World War II), which would not only help offset the country's growing debt from its war-making, but might also generate actual concern and interest in those wars. (Even if the government didn't spend another dollar on its wars, our research shows that we will still have to pay a breathtaking $8 trillion extra in interest on past war borrowing by the 2050s.)

The struggle ahead:

After visiting some congressional offices in November, my colleagues and I were struck that even the most progressive among them were talking only about allocating slightly -- and I mean slightly -- less money to the Pentagon budget, or supporting slightly fewer of the hundreds of military bases with which Washington garrisons the globe. The idea that it might be possible to work toward ending this country's "forever wars" was essentially unmentionable.

Such a conversation could only come about if Americans -- particularly young Americans -- were to become passionate about stopping the spread of the war on terror, now considered little short of a "generational struggle" by the US military. For any of this to change, President Trump's enthusiastic support for expanding the military and its budget, and the fear-based inertia that leads lawmakers to unquestioningly support any American military campaign, would have to be met by a strong counterforce. Through the engagement of significant numbers of concerned citizens, the status quo of war making might be reversed, and the rising tide of the US counterterror wars stemmed.

Toward that end, the Costs of War Project will continue to tell whoever will listen what the longest war(s) in US history are costing Americans and others around the world.

13 users have voted.

"They'll say we're disturbing the peace, but there is no peace. What really bothers them is that we are disturbing the war." Howard Zinn

divineorder's picture

Gud news!:)

7 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

GreyWolf's picture

"... Cooperation Jackson is an initiative to help address the material needs of Jackson’s low income and working class communities through cooperative economic efforts. Without government support it rose autonomously and created a network of worker cooperatives ...

... Cooperation Jackson is an economic movement, a human rights movement and a movement insistent on environmentally sustainable progress. ...

... Whether Jackson Mississippi can indeed become the most radical city in the world is as yet unknown. But it is definitely off to a concrete start and that itself is both instructive and inspirational."

"The Blueprint for the Most Radical City on the Planet"

Jackson Rising Demonstration.jpg

Jackson Rising: At Last, a Real Strategic Plan

Thoughts on “Jackson Rising” and Cooperation Jackson

11 users have voted.
QMS's picture

@GreyWolf tried to take out the book from our state-wide system, there are none. My friends at the local library had to do a national search. Found a few, but the cost of shipping is more than aMazone dot con would charge. Censorship much?

4 users have voted.

Listen to your higher mind.

GreyWolf's picture


2 users have voted.
Lookout's picture

I can go for it. Stories like this one can inspire us...
Last month, the Oregon Court of Appeals upheld Portland’s ban on fossil fuel infrastructure as constitutional, affirming the city’s power to regulate the safety and welfare of its residents and sending a powerful signal to cities that they too can take the lead to limit fossil fuel use.

Accentuate the positive (3.5 min) Johnny Mercer

None the less we also must face the reality. Walk the path that leads you to a positive future. The path is different for us all but we can help one another on the way. Our challenges grow. Peace be with you all on our journey. Spend time with young people they feel the joy of the moment ... join them.

5 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”